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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The elusive role of the N-terminal extension of beta A3- and beta A1-crystallin.

beta-Crystallins are structural lens proteins with a conserved two-domain structure and variable N- and C-terminal extensions. These extensions are assumed to be involved in quaternary interactions within the beta-crystallin oligomers or with other lens proteins. Therefore, the production of beta A3- and beta A1-crystallin from the single beta A3/ A1 mRNA by dual translation initiation is of interest. These crystallins are identical, except that beta A1 has a much shorter N-terminal extension that beta A3. This rare mechanism has been conserved for over 250 million years during the evolution of the beta A3/ A1 gene, suggesting that the generation of different N-terminal extensions confers a selective advantage. We therefore compared the stability and association behaviour of recombinant beta A3- and beta A1-crystallin. Both proteins are equally stable in urea- and pH-induced denaturation experiments. Gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation established that beta A3 and beta A1 both form homodimers. In the water-soluble proteins of bovine lens, beta A3 and beta A1 are present in the same molecular weight fractions, indicating that they oligomerize equally with other beta-crystallins. 1H-NMR spectroscopy showed that residues Met1 to Asn22 of the N-terminal extension of beta A3 have great flexibility and are solvent exposed, excluding them from protein interactions in the homodimer. These results indicate that the different N-terminal extensions of beta A3 and beta A1 do not affect their homo- or heteromeric interactions.[1]


  1. The elusive role of the N-terminal extension of beta A3- and beta A1-crystallin. Werten, P.J., Carver, J.A., Jaenicke, R., de Jong, W.W. Protein Eng. (1996) [Pubmed]
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